Carson Leads in Popularity Overall; Even With Trump Within the GOP (POLL)

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington on Oct. 9, 2015 and Presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen campaigning at Trump National Doral on Oct. 23, 2015 in Doral, Fla. PlayAndrew Harnik/AP Photo | Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images
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Ben Carson trumps The Donald in terms of basic popularity among all Americans, but the two candidates are essentially even among Republicans –- and well ahead of their top competitors. Heading into the latest GOP presidential debate, 71 percent of Republicans see Ben Carson favorably and 69 percent feel the same about Donald Trump. Both non-politicians outpace their more traditional rivals in this measure –- Marco Rubio, seen favorably by 58 percent of Republicans; Jeb Bush, 56 percent; and Ted Cruz, 53 percent. On the flip side, Bush has the highest negatives within the party, rated unfavorably by 37 percent of Republicans. On another measure, though, he has company: Twenty percent of Republicans see both Bush and Trump “strongly” unfavorably, vs. 7 percent for Cruz and a mere 4 percent for Carson and Rubio. See PDF with full results here.

While Trump and Carson are rated very similarly overall within their party, the picture shifts outside the GOP, where Trump is considerably more unpopular. Among all adults, Carson has a 50 percent favorability rating vs. 32 percent unfavorable. Trump’s ratings, by contrast, are 38-59 percent, favorable-unfavorable. Moreover, among registered voters, Carson cracks a majority, with 53 percent seeing him favorably vs. Trump’s 40 percent.

Strongly negative views of Trump jump to 46 percent among all Americans in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. The comparative numbers for his competitors are much lower -- Bush, seen strongly negatively by 28 percent; Cruz, 21 percent; Carson, 15 percent and Rubio, 14 percent. Notably, sizable numbers of Americans haven’t yet formed an opinion of three of these candidates – Cruz, 23 percent; Rubio, 22 percent, and even Carson. At this point 18 percent have no opinion of Carson. That slides to 9 percent for Bush and just 3 percent for Trump. Not much movement is apparent: Carson’s positive rating is up by 5 percentage points among all Americans since late September, but his negative score has advanced by the same amount. Trump’s overall favorability hasn’t budged since midsummer. Bush’s ratings are basically the same as in late August. Cruz, compared with last spring, is +9 in favorability but +6 in unfavorable ratings. Rubio’s measurement is the first in an ABC/Post poll this cycle.

Partisanship

While Carson and Trump are equally popular overall among Republicans, Carson’s the sole GOP candidate in this poll who’s significantly above water among independents, 47-35 percent favorable-unfavorable. Rubio splits fairly evenly, while Cruz, Bush and Trump are all on the negative side of the ledger. Carson is -11 in favorability among Democrats, 35-46 percent. By contrast, Rubio’s favorable-unfavorable score among Democrats is -26, Cruz’s -37, Bush’s -41 and Trump’s -62.

Other groups

Anywhere from 63 to 69 percent of strong conservatives see Carson, Rubio, Cruz and Trump favorably. But, as in the past, Bush struggles here, at only 47 percent. Trump continues to show a significant gender gap; he’s under water by 10 points among men overall vs. 31 points among women. (There’s no real difference, however, between Republican men and women.) Cruz does better among men than women, while the rest are about equally popular among women and men. All of these candidates, save Bush, tend to be more popular than unpopular among seniors compared with young adults, but Trump has an especially wide gap. He breaks even, 46-49 percent favorable-unfavorable among seniors, but among 18- to 29-year olds, 71 percent see him unfavorably.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone Nov. 4-8, 2015, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,023 adults, including 263 Republicans. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points for the full sample and 7 points for Republicans. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS of Media, Pa. See details on the survey’s methodology here.